On sculptor Mechthild Kalisky’s latest exhibition in Les Studios de Paris’ Art Gallery
Les Studios de Paris’ Art Gallery is delighted to present sculptor Mechthild Kalisky’s latest creative manifesto. In “The immaterial through the material”, objects and images are detached from their everyday context, their presumed status and meaning being thus questioned. Investigating themes such as identity, history, freedom and zest for life, the exposition challenges the classical approach to sculpture by re-staging traditional artworks and offering a sense of a new uncommon universe.
Struck by the expressionist quality of “The noise of the dead when they turn around in their graves” (an exhibition which invests a universal yet rarely confronted subject with a gutsy, graphic interpretation of ‘life between lifetimes’), Eva Léandre, Les Studios’ CEO and exhibition curator, gives her reasons for presenting the world of Mechthild Kalisky in Les Studios’ Art Gallery:
“I selected the works of Mechthild for the Studios’ spring exhibition because she is a lady with a wave-length so subtle that being in her space is like taking a holiday from the world as we know it. Light as a butterfly yet deeply concerned, caring and compassionate, I love the elegance and oneiric quality of her marble and granite sculptures and installations which seem to defy gravity and dematerialize the very stone they are made of into a chiseled, yet meaningful nothingness. Our gallery’s vocation is to reconnect Montmartre with its tradition of a fertile breeding ground for major art. We are proud to present the works of Mechthild Kalisky.”
Born in Leipzig, Germany, but turned Parisian by chance, Mechthild Kalisky studied at different Academies for Fine Arts in Brussels, Munich (the Kunstakademie), Salzbourg (Sommerakademie) and Berlin (HFBK). She left Germany to live and work in Belgium, India and Italy, but settled for Paris in 1974, where she raised her two children and opened a studio in Belleville in 1984.
Specialized in conceptual art and symbolic abstractions, she works essentially with marble and granite, sculpting bas-reliefs or creating art installations. Her artworks have been displayed in many galleries in France and Europe, among which the Musée d’Art Moderne de Bruxelles, Centre Pompidou, Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, the I.B.A. in Berlin, the Expo Olivetti in Bruxelles and many others.
Lyrical, ironical, insightful and serious, Mechthild presents her own take on “the art of revealing the Immaterial through the material” in Les Studios’ latest exhibition.
You create life with your bare hands. How does it feel?
To ‘work with your bare hands’ is quite mythical, a dream for many people… This very human impulse makes perfect sense when you observe little children playing in the mud, shaping clay with their hands. That’s my story, it happened to me when I was twelve. I got a tiny piece of modeling clay and held it for 3 days sculpting my left hand with my right one! Many years later, when polishing my sculptures, came those perfect moments of meditation… But the so called ‘inspiration’ is a secret that reveals itself whenever it wants – in the train, in a dream or perhaps even in the kitchen while cooking!
What’s the most challenging material you’ve “tamed” in your sculptor’s work so far?
I’ve sculpted granite, marble, plaster, bronze and lead, but I’ve always considered stone like a sort of a challenge, probably because I am a woman. Yet this passion of mine has a price to pay in means of my ruined back and hands.
How did you connect with Les Studios? What inspired you to exhibit with us?
I found Les Studios’ lovely art gallery through a friend and am delighted to show some of my works here. I love Montmartre and I can sense the inspiring history of so many precious artists and poets who left their traces here! As for my exhibition with Les Studios, I see it as an exciting adventure. The advantage of displaying my works with Les Studios will give me the opportunity to connect and communicate with the visitors, which was impossible in my last two exhibitions in Sweden and Poland, as I did not speak the language.
What can our visitors expect to see/experience in Les Studios’ exhibition?
The silkscreens on marble as well as the lead shirts shown in Les Studios’ exhibition are quite exceptional in my work. During their creation, no chisel or stonecutting has been used; they’re just manipulated photographs and lead. In fact, those 4 shield-shaped pieces of marble are part of an installation (enriched with a soundtrack which is unfortunately impossible to install in the gallery) of 13 pieces called: “The noise of the dead when they turn around in their graves”. Although it sounds a bit grim, there is certainly nothing morbid about it! It’s actually quite a curious topic to ponder upon so I decided to interpret it. Some believe that our soul flies off, leaving the body behind like an old garment. Others think that that there is no soul but that our our spirit is the inhabitant of every nano-particle around us. You might as well accept that some roll over in despair in their graves!
Quite ironically, I said to myself that there must be a lot of poetic noise in a cemetery. That is why when I found those white marble shields in Carrara, I saved them, because to me they represented human bodies over which I applied the serigraphics-silkscreen-prints. Initially it was a picture by Salgado: the dramatic sweating human bodies of gold-miners in Brazil climbing out of a huge crater with burdens of earth on their neck. Then I took pictures of women, holding the burden of their breasts making a pair. There are so many different associations entering into the creative process…
The lead shirts, the other artworks to be displayed in the exhibition, have been folded with very thin sheets of lead. In the Middle-Age, lead was called “the ugly metal”, in contrast to gold, and yet today it protects us from fatal rays. The image of the shirt is rich in symbolic meaning – we have our “last shirt” (mainly white), then there were the “red shirts” of the Garibaldians in Italy, the Fascists’ “black shirts”, the Nazis’ “brown shirts”… The lead shirts might be a replica to all that, but they also have another very symbolic importance, as something covering our heart…
Do you have a preferred topic you like to explore in your work?
I know that most of my stone-sculpture is a craving for aliveness, air, breathing, space… For instance, I once made 3 tall ladders in white marble, just leading to the sky, symbolizing the eternal human whim to climb up and up…
“The immaterial through the material” is on view at Les Studios de Paris’ Art Gallery from 21 March to 21 May, 2013.
Anyone interested in the field of sculpture is cordially invited to our opening reception which will take place on Thursday 21st March from 18h to 21h on the Hill of Montmartre 2, Rue d’Androuet.